With ninth and 16th place finishes respectively in their qualifying race, Landon Cassill and Ty Dillon were among six drivers Thursday night to race their way into Sunday’s Daytona 500 in the first Budweiser Duel.
Cassill, who will compete in his third Daytona 500, qualified in via a transfer spot for the second consecutive season in Joseph Falk’s No. 40 car.
“My team works really hard on our superspeedway cars,” he said. “…You've seen our performances at superspeedways. It's really where we put all of our resources.
“It's exciting at the rest of the races, but when you come to the Daytona 500, we have to race our way in. It's our second year in a row doing that. I'm extremely proud of it.”
The Daytona 500 is the largest purse paying race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. Regardless of his finish on Sunday, Cassill acknowledges his team will be netting a six-figure pay day.
“75% of our budget is prize money,” Cassill said. “The way the prize money averages out in a regular race, the race on Sunday, it takes us three races to get that.
“When a majority of your team's budget is off the prize money, there's a lot of things that have already been purchased that just haven't been paid for yet. The check that's coming after Sunday's race is going to pay for that.”
Ty Dillon’s finish of 16th earned the final transfer spot Thursday night. Dillon, who started fourth Thursday night, avoided melee in his race, earning a start in his first Daytona 500.
“I've been coming here since I was born with my family and watching my grandfather's cars race; [I] always wanted to be a part of this,” he said.
Dillon, a third-generation driver, spoke with the media post-race Thursday about what it will mean to him to start in Sunday’s race.
“I love NASCAR. I love our sport for the passion that it takes and the history and everything that's made it. I always wanted to be a part of the highest level and racing in the biggest races. Tonight I was able to accomplish a goal I've wanted to accomplish for a long time.”